Make no mistake about it: DigBoston was among the first publications anywhere to lose its hipster mind wholeheartedly over Found Magazine and its compendiums of random junk. The same goes for its blog and the roving Found Footage Festival, which comes through Brookline on Thursday in its latest incarnation: “A Salute To Weirdos.” Offered a preview of some items the festival has on the road with it, we threw a couple of queries at Nick Prueher of Found Footage Festival about why he’s bringing this particular junk to our city …
With so many people making instructional videos these days—you can YouTube for a how-to on changing the RAM out of a specific type of computer, for crying out loud—what does it take for an old instructional gem to really stand out?
NP: For me, I think it’s hard for anything online to recreate the sort of wide-eyed innocence and naïveté that people had during the VHS era. In the ’80s and early ’90s, VHS was a new technology and people were still figuring out how things worked and trying out new ideas, many of them ill-advised. Nowadays every laptop comes with a built-in camera and editing software so people are savvier. What really sets the Magical Rainbow Sponge apart from other instructional videos is the over-the-top enthusiasm of the host, Dee Gruenig. With every pattern she makes with her paint-covered sponge, she lets out a series of excited yelps—there’s nothing forced about it; she is genuinely ecstatic about sponge painting. I wish I could be that excited about anything. We actually hired a private detective to track down Dee, and I’m proud to say we’ve found her and are hoping to meet her one day. Ironically, she doesn’t sound too excited about the prospect.
Do you watch a lot of community access TV these days? I do, and I feel like it’s just not as weird as it used to be. Not so much fun anymore. Do you find that to be the case? Is it because all the eccentricity is online?
NP: [Co-host] Joe and I spend a lot of time in hotels, so we still watch a lot of public access TV late at night after our shows. There is still a lot of good stuff on there—religious weirdos, terrible bands, call-in shows. Back home in New York, we recently discovered a show called Sci Fi Ninja Theater where a short guy in a ponytail conducts awkward interviews at horror conventions, and we can’t get enough. As always, you have to wade through a lot of boring public affairs shows and nursing home lunch menus to get to the good stuff. Luckily, we’re more than willing to do that so you don’t have to.
You claim to be bringing a throwback clip of consummate weirdo Arnold Schwarzenegger in a 1983 travel video called Carnival In Rio, in which he seductively feeds a woman a carrot. Where the fuck did you find this, and how much of a boner did you get upon realizing what it was? Is this something that could have stopped his political career in its tracks back in the day?
NP: Oh man, I’ll never forget it. I had just moved to New York and was browsing around at a video rental store when I found a tape called Carnival in Rio for sale in the bargain bin for $2. We were already big video collectors at the time, so when I saw it was hosted by pre-Terminator Arnold Schwarzenegger I knew it was something special. Essentially, a producer sent Arnie to Rio during Carnival in 1983, hired a few Brazilian escorts for him and said, “Go nuts!” And he does, harassing and groping just about every woman in sight. I was working at the Late Show with David Letterman at the time, and we ended up playing incriminating clips from it during Schwarzenegger’s run for governor, but it didn’t matter. People are willing to overlook those sorts of things when a muscled man from the movie screen is up for election.